THE GMB trade union yesterday slammed the scrapping of the HS2 Northern route, the biggest cut in the rail network since the days of the Beeching axe.
‘We can’t rebalance the economy or fix the railway capacity crisis without HS2’, said the GMB Union yesterday, correctly condemning Sunak.
Laurence Turner, the GMB Head of Research and Policy, said: ‘Sunak’s decision to inflict the biggest rail cut since the Beeching axe will send a shockwave through the construction industry and railway supply chain, costing many hundreds of jobs!
‘The UK’s political instability was already holding the economy back – it will now be even harder to fund and deliver the new infrastructure that the country desperately needs.
‘We can’t rebalance the economy or fix the railway capacity crisis without HS2.’ He urged: ‘It’s essential that the planned route is now protected so that a future government can reverse this disastrous decision.’
Unite union leader Sharon Graham commented: ‘This decision to cancel the northern leg of HS2 makes a nonsense of the whole project and will be seriously destructive to the economy.
‘The HS2 project is supposed to provide well-paid and high-skilled jobs and to redress some of problems resulting from years of chronic under-investment in our railways, which are already creaking at the seams.
‘The government hokey-cokey with major infrastructure projects is now undermining investment and destroying any credibility for their claims about rebalancing the economy.
‘The Labour Party must now seize this golden opportunity to stand up for workers and communities in the North of England by making a clear commitment to build both the Manchester and Leeds spurs of HS2. I can assure you that I will be pressing that point with Keir Starmer.’
The TUC also warned that Britain’s manufacturing heartlands are being put at ‘serious risk’ by the Conservatives’ ‘incoherent’ climate politicking.
The TUC says more job losses could be on the cards without a serious investment plan and a government willing to work ‘hand in hand’ with unions and employers, as they do in other countries.
It has challenged all political parties to come forward with a ‘serious roadmap’ for future-proofing the UK economy – and has set out proposals for an ‘invest in our future’ programme.
The TUC says that around 800,000 manufacturing and supply chain jobs in automotive, steel and other sectors are at risk. The union body warns the jobs could be lost to countries offering higher climate subsidies and investment in clean infrastructure. The TUC says the government must ‘pull every lever to deliver net zero and create and support good jobs.’
The analysis shows how communities in Britain’s industrial heartlands will be most impacted if the UK fails to act. The regions with the most jobs at risk are the West Midlands, the Northwest, Yorkshire and the Humber.
The TUC says many strategically important industries are in danger of ‘haemorrhaging’ jobs overseas. Broken down by sector this includes an estimated: 112,400 jobs in automotive, 31,000 jobs in iron and steel, 38,500 jobs in glass and ceramics, and 66,500 jobs in chemicals.
The TUC has set out proposals for an ‘Invest in our future’ programme, and calls for a US style ‘Biden plan’ which includes options for government investments in sustainable power, industrial upgrades and public transport, to create hundreds of thousands of good jobs across the country and grow the UK’s manufacturing sector.
The Sunak government has just ripped all this up with its determination to smash HS2. The time has come for action. The TUC must immediately take action against the Sunak government to defend every job in the UK.
It must immediately call a special Congress of the TUC to organise a general strike to bring down the Sunak government and to bring in a Workers Government, a nationalised and planned economy and socialism.
The major trade unions must now take action to bring down the Sunak regime before it plunges the UK into its greatest unemployment catastrophe ever.
There is not a moment to lose. Call the general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a Workers Government and socialism now!